M A I N   N E W S

Culling teams refuse to work, demand security
Coochbehar, Howrah also affected
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, January 20
The culling operation in the bird flu-infected districts of Birbhum and Nadia today suffered a setback following the refusal by the government-recruited veterinary doctors to undertake the drive in the wake of yesterday’s attack on them at Nalhati and Rampurhat in the worst-hit Birbhum district.

As a result, today’s target of culling 50,000 infested birds and chickens could not be completed. State government officials accompanying union minister of state for health Panabaka Lakshmi told her during her visit to Tagore’s Santinektan about today’s progress in the culling drive.

The minister had already expressed dissatisfaction at the poor handling of the bird flu situation. She visited the block hospitals at Rampurhat and Bolpur and supervised the arrangements in the isolated wards for treating the bird flu affected people for which special assistance and aids had been sanctioned by the union health ministry.

According to official sources, of the five volunteers and one doctor, who were hospitalised after yesterday’s attack, the condition of the two was stated to be critical. However, the others were released after first aid.

These officials were attacked during the culling operation at two blocks at Nalhati and one block at Rampurhat by an angry mob, which was protesting against the indiscriminate killing of birds, chickens and ducks everywhere.

Moreover, the owners of these animals alleged that so far they had not received any compensation for these destroyed culled birds and chickens.

State animal husbandry minister Anisur Rahman, however, denied that the culling operation suffered any major setback today. However, he admitted the doctors and volunteers engaged in the drive were demanding safety and security after yesterday’s incident. Initially, they declined to undertake the operation, but later with the police escort they conducted the drive in some areas.

He said from tomorrow a special culling drive would be launched in all affected districts by different groups for completing the culling of the targeted five lakh infected birds and chickens within the next seven days.

Some more areas in several districts, both in south and north Bengal, had fallen under the bird flu attack and the gradual spreading of the virus day by day to new areas was worrying the government. So far, the bird flu had been detected in Nadia, Murshidabad, Birbhum, Burdwan and South Dinajpur. But, today, several areas in the remote border district of Cochbehar and the industrial town of Howrah were reported to be in the grip of bird flu.

Though there was no report of the bid flu outbreak in Kolkata, the carcass of several suspected bird flu victims, including kites and seasonal birds, had been detected in an open field in the Sunderbans in south 24-parganas.



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